Colombia History 1900 - Present (CCOT Version)

Accelerating Global Change and Realignments

Return of Conservatives

1880 - 1930

After the end of the War of the the Thousand Days, Colombia suffered another detriment in the loss of Panama. The Colombian government refused to allow the U.S. to construct a canal across the isthmus, embittering relations between the two nations. However, with a boom in coffee demand and production, Colombia was able to climb out of its defecit

Era of Liberals

1930 - 1946

Upheld the rights of peasants, especially those in the coffee growing region

Elections of 1946


Liberals: Gaitán and Gabriel Turbay
Conservative: Mariano Ospina Pérez
Pérez won because Liberals split the vote

La Violencia

1948 - 1958

Ten years of conflict between Liberals and Conservatives
20,000 armed rebels

CHANGE AGENT: Execution of Jorge Eliecer Gaitán


This massive shift in Colombian history can be traced to one single day: April the 9th, 1948. It was on this day, shortly after the failed liberal campaign for presidency, that liberal leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán was assassinated. This triggered mass civilian rioting in the streets of Bogotá, which came to be known as the Bogotazo. Shortly thereafter, government counterrevolutionary forces arrived and began massacres of the rioting population, performing such acts as impaling infants on pikes. These traumatic events led to the 10-year La Violencia, in which intense conflict between Liberals and Conservatives left 300,000 dead.

CHANGE: Political Discontent to Armed Massacre


At this time, there was a shift in Colombia from an era dominated merely by discontent and unsatisfaction with the current gov't to one marked by mass rioting and massacre, similar to the September Massacres. Hundreds of thousands of people died during this shift, when violence was most prominent in the immediate after-effects, especially the gov't counterrevolution.

Gov't Counterrevolution

Apr 9, 1948

Government sent police to squash the opposition
Severed body parts, slashed fetuses, impaled infants on bayonets
Much like the September Massacres
Result: 300,000 murdered people

Execution of Jorge Gaitán

9 April 1948

Conservative attacks on Liberals supported by Pérez in Presidency
Invoked mass rioting in Bogotá, known as Bogotazo
"Uncontrollable human tide in Capital streets"
Much like Great Fear of French Revolution, violence spread to Countryside

Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) Founded


Soviet - influenced Communist movements
Originated in 'resistance committees' from the time of La Violencia

National Liberation Army (ELN) Founded


Marxist Guerrilla group created by Colombian students from Cuba

19th of April Movement

19 April 1970

National Front candidate nearly beaten by exiled Rojas Pinilla
Recent demographic transition from city to country meant more lower and middle class citizens
Citizens unhappy that the traditional parties had still won the elections
19th of April founded as a result

Emergence of Drug Cartels


Two major organizations formed, similar to mafias
Medellín, led by Pablo Escobar, other in Cali
Each took advantage of lucrative marijuana trade to U.S.

U.S. Intervention


Aim: to stop the growing FARC cocaine trade